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Call Number 

CGSC Form 13 — 11 Dec 72 

USACGSC— 3P3-1783— 12M— 22 Dec 72 


Department of Military Art and Engineering 
united states military academy 
west point, new york 


B 8 my 1949 


This account of the campaign in Poland has been written for use 
in the instruction of cadets at the United States Military Academy. 
It is based for the most part on material prepared by the Military 
Intelligence Service, War Department. However, while acknowl- 
edging the great indebtedness to the M. I. S., it is not desired to 
place on it the responsibility for any factual errors, or for any 
conclusions drawn. 

Jvly, 19U- 

U.B.M.A. PRINTING □ FFI C E-B-30-4 5-2 SOO 



Most military men emerged from the First World War with a 
belief in the impossibility of a future European war of maneuver. 
They thought the theater too limited and the defensive too strong 
to permit new wars to be other than tests of endurance. Most 
Continental nations, accepting their soldiers' new doctrine and being 
satisfied with the Versailles boundaries, devoted their military en- 
ergies to constructing defensive lines instead of developing new 
offensive weapons and tactics. 

Only Germany failed to adopt these new beliefs. Refusing to 
accept a doctrine that gave no possibility of regaining her lost 
provinces, she continued to cling to the teachings of Clausewitz, who 
had written : 

If the defensive is the stronger form of conducting war, but 
has a negative object, it follows of itself that we must only 
make use of it so long as our weakness compels us to do so, and 
we must give up that form as soon as we feel strong enough to 

aim at a positive object A war in which victories are merely 

used to ward off blows, and where there is no attempt to return 
the blow would be . . . absurd. 

Let us not hear of generals who would conquer without blood- 
shed. If a bloody slaughter is a horrible sight, then that is ground 
for paying more respect to war, but not for making the sword 
we wear blunter and blunter by degrees . . ., until someone steps 
in with a sword that is sharp and lops off the arm of our body. 

Basically, Germany's superiority has been due less to German 
development of the two modern weapons, the airplane and tank, 
than to the strategic doctrine which limited Allied production. The 
Allies might have outdistanced Germany had their plans contem- 
plated offensive action. All too soon, the Allied plan of a "bloodless 
war" was shattered by that one nation which clung to the age-old 
principle of the attack. Too late, the victim nations realized that, 
through neglect of the possibility of maneuver, they had failed to keep 
pace in the production of the most vital war equipment. Through 
subscription to a false doctrine, they had allowed their "sword" to 
become "blunter and blunter by degrees" until Germany could step 
in with a sharper weapon. 


Poland, with the fifth largest army in Europe, was the first nation 
to feel the attack of the rejuvenated Nazi war machine. Because of 
iater German conquests, the world has largely forgotten this initial 
success. Yet in one respect the rapid annihilation of the Polish 
Army was Germany's most important conquest. This campaign 
demonstrated to Germany, if not to the rest of the world, the cor- 
rectness of her military doctrine. It furnished the proving ground 
for her organization and weapons. 

The rapidity of Poland's complete destruction came as a shocking 
surprise to the world at large. Eight days after the beginning of 
the war, all Polish forces were in demoralized retreat ; and a month 
later, the entire fighting force of a million men had been annihilated. 
Military history offers no prior example of a conquest so rapid and 
complete. In this victory the new German air and mechanized forces 
played an unprecedented part. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to 
say that German success was due to these two arms alone. Simply 
stated, Germany's stupendous conquest may be attributed to the 
superiority of the entire German Army over the outmoded Polish 
war machine. Germany's balanced, well-trained, and ably led forces 
found no match in those of her smaller rival. 


Potentially, Poland as a nation could never be a match for the 
newly armed Nazi might, backed by the tremendous German industry, 
rich resources, and plentiful reserves. Poland's near bankruptcy 
and industrial backwardness would always hamper greatly any mod- 
ern armament program. She possessed a fairly large iron and steel 
industry, an oil output of one eighth her peacetime needs, and a 
newly created, but small, airplane industry. In all other production 
necessary for a modern war, including the manufacture of auto- 
mobiles and trucks, she was totally lacking. With agricultural pro- 
duce her only exportable surplus, her international credit was low. 
Thus, lack of home production caused her to maintain equipment 
long considered obsolete by most major powers, while limited pur- 
chasing power compelled her to accept any foreign equipment she 
could buy. Further, the poor Polish road net, the famous Polish 
mud, and the local abundance of good horseflesh caused her military 
leaders to overemphasize the importance of horse cavalry and trans- 
port. The result was such that the outbreak of war found Poland 
in possession of an army patterned closely after those of the First 
World War. 


With Hitler's ascent to power in 1933, Germany had inaugu- 
rated a program designed to train and arm a fighting force second 
to none. In 1935, she had resumed universal training. By the sum- 
mer of 1939, she had succeeded in training 2,500,000 of her 86,000,000 
population, and had available equipment reserves for more than 
twice that number. Approximately 900,000 of those trained were 
members of the active Army, 200,000 were in the active Air Force, 
while 1,400,000 had completed their two years of service and had 
been released to the reserve. In addition, Germany had within her 
borders 1,700,000 men who had seen active service in the First World 
War. The members of this latter group, though relatively un- 
familiar with the technique of modern weapons, were capable of 
rapid and easy conversion to first-line troops. 

Germany's peacetime Army consisted of 35 horse-transport in- 
fantry divisions, 3 mountain divisions, 4 motorized divisions, 5 heavy 
mechanized (panzer) divisions, and 4 light mechanized divisions. 
These were grouped into 18 corps and 6 armies. " On 1 September, 
Germany had 90 peacetime and reserve divisions ready for active 
operations. Sixty of these had been concentrated for the Polish 
campaign. The mobilization of some 50 to 60 additional divisions 
was either in process or was begun immediately. It appears that 
none of these were considered fully fit for field operations during the 
first month of the war. 

The basic fighting unit of the German Army was the more numer- 
ous horse-transport infantry division. This division was triangular 
in form — three infantry regiments of three battalions each — and 
had -& strength of 15,261 officers and men. The fire power of the 
division was tremendous. It contained 342 light and 100 heavy 
air-cooled machine guns, 81 light infantry mortars (50-mm.), 54 
heavy infantry mortars (81-mm.), 72 antitank guns (37-mm.), 18 
infantry howitzers (75-mm.), and 6 infantry howitzers (150-fflm.). 
Of these weapons, 12 of the antitank guns, 27 of the light and 12 of 
the heavy mortars, 6 of the 75-mm. howitzers, and 2 of the 150-mm. 
howitzers were organically assigned to each regiment. 

Artillery support for the division was provided by three battalions 
of light and one battalion of medium artillery. All light-artillery 
battalions were composed of twelve 105-mm. howitzers, while the 
medium battalion contained two batteries (8 pieces) of 150-mm. how- 
itzers and one battery (4 pieces) of 105-mm. guns. 

Germany had about 6,000 tanks. Three quarters of these were 
organized into panzer and light mechanized divisions. The re- 
mainder were formed into a number of GHQ tank regiments, to be 
used for close infantry support. The panzer division, with its 


strength of about 14,000 men and 3,000 vehicles, was organized into 
three echelons : a reconnaissance force, a shock force, and a ground- 
holding element. The reconnaissance echelon contained a motorized 
reconnaissance battalion of 50 armored cars, a motorcycle infantry 
company, and certain supporting weapons. The second echelon 
consisted of 450 tanks organized into two tank regiments, each of 
which contained both light and medium tanks. The ground-holding 
echelon contained one motorized infantry brigade of two regiments, 
an artillery regiment, and certain engineer, antitank, and signal 

The German motorized division was identical with the horse-trans- 
port infantry division, except that motor transport was furnished 
for all men and equipment and a mechanized reconnaissance battalion 
Was added. The infantry themselves were transported in four- 
wheel-drive light trucks. The heavy infantry weapons — heavy 
machine guns, mortars, infantry howitzers, and antitank guns — were 
transported in or behind one-ton half-track trucks. These vehicles, 
with their low silhouette, excellent road speed, and cross-country 
mobility, gave considerable tactical mobility to the unit. 

A difference between the German Army of 1939 and that of 1914 
was the function and quantity of horse cavalry. At the outbreak 
of war in 1939 Germany had only one two-regiment brigade of liorse 
cavalry, located in East Prussia. This was later expanded into a 
cavalry division. There were approximately fifteen independent cav- 
alry regiments, located in Germany proper and trained as reconnais- 
sance units. Each independent regiment was organized so that upon 
mobilization it could be split up into reconnaissance detachments or 
troops of 300 men each for the infantry divisions. In addition, each 
infantry regiment was given a mounted reconnaissance platoon.* 

By the summer of 1939, Germany had achieved her dream of an 
Air Force second to none. Through the means of flying and soaring 
clubs, as well as more formal civil and military training, she had 
built up a reserve pilot strength of approximately 100,000. Her 
potential production was estimated as high as 2,000 airplanes per 

* For corps and armies, the reconnaissance units were motorized. The same 
was, of course, true for the reconnaissance units of motorized divisions. 
A report dated 22 September, 1941, states that the cavalry division was 
being converted into a motorized division, and that the only mounted 
units then in the German Army were the platoons assigned to infantry 
regiments. Apparently the mounted detachments assigned to divisions 
had been abolished. A later report, dated November 22, 1941, states 
that the conversion of the cavalry division to a motorized division was 
postponed and that the division operated as horse cavalry on the Russian 
Front as late as October, 1941. 


month. She possessed a fighting force of 7,000 first-line planes, 
organized into four air fleets. In addition, she had available para- 
chute and air infantry, whose use she postponed till a later campaign. 

Poland, with her population of 34,000,000, had an active Army of 
266,000 and partially trained reserves of nearly 3,000,000. Owing to 
prior mobilization, 600,000 were ready and available on M day, while 
an additional 400,000 were mobilized before the campaign ended. 
Howing, owing to the rapid German advance and the immediate de- 
struction of Polish railroads, most of the latter took little part in the 
combat. Except for an estimated two divisions, they were thrown 
into battle by regiment or smaller unit when the situation became 

The 600,000 men already mobilized were organized into 30 infantry 
divisions, 12 independent cavalry brigades, and certain army, corps, 
and special troops. The Polish infantry division, though nearly 
equal to the German in man power, was woefully weak in sup- 
porting weapons. Its light and medium artillery consisted of a 
heterogeneous lot of 75-mm. and 105-mm. pieces. Although 45 light 
antitank guns were authorized for each division, only about half 
were on hand on 1 September. Only 200 light and 200 heavy anti- 
aircraft guns were available to the entire Army. 

Poland's Air Force, a part of the Army, contained 900 first-line 
planes and about 600 in second line. All were of a design greatly 
inferior to those of her opponent. Her mechanized strength con- 
sisted of 600 well-designed light tanks, organized into one tank 
brigade and several independent regiments. 

Man for man, the Polish soldier has always been an able opponent 
of any foe he has met. On many fields and under many flags, his 
ancestors have demonstrated their bravery and endurance. In 1939, 
the average Polish soldier was fairly well trained, could march long 
distances, and was possessed of a high morale. Company officers 
had reached a high degree of efficiency and were uniformly well 
considered. Above the company, however, the Polish command was 
questionable. Limited schooling, lack of large-scale maneuvers, 
political influence upon promotion, and an outmoded strategic doc- 
trine, all combined to make the higher officers compare unfavorably 
with the Germans of like grade. 

Very little has yet been published on the detailed Polish command 
and staff organization. It is known, however, that no group* com- 

* The Poles called their field armies "groups". 


manders existed in peacetime, and that upon mobilization the Polish 
chain of command included no link between the group and the divi- 
sion. Smigly-Ritz, the commander in chief, was a virtual dictator, 
controlling the country's political as well as military affairs. Since 
successful operation in wartime necessitated extreme decentraliza- 
tion of command, able staffs and group commanders familiar with 
their duties should have been available to absorb some of the many 
duties which otherwise would fall upon GHQ. The results of the 
war indicate that such was probably not the case. 

Since 1933, Hitler and his subordinates had done all in their power 
to improve the stamina, training, and morale of the manhood of 
Germany. Youth organizations, mass civilian drills, group calis- 
thenics, and organized athletics raised the physical endurance of the 
nation as a whole. The work battalions and universal military 
conscription furthered this physical development and added dis- 
cipline and military training. Service with the armed forces, even 
in peacetime, became a serious business. Military housekeeping 
and administration by the troops themselves was cut to a minimum. 
The training program provided for ten hours of drill and instruction 
for six days a week. There were frequent forced marches and 
extended maneuvers under simulated war conditons. The German 
trained reserves and the men of the active Army and Air Force were 
without peers in the military world of 1939. 

The officer corps of the German Regular Army has long been 
recognized as the greatest stabilizing influence in the German nation. 
To be a member of that class has always beeii considered a high 
honor. This corps, while small between 1918 and 1932, maintained 
its traditions of efficiency and devotion to duty. Only men of good 
family, long military experience, and demonstrated ability could hope 
to receive important command or staff assignments. The high 
command had repeatedly been given the opportunity to handle forces 
as large as 100,000 in the annual fall maneuvers. In addition, much 
valuable command and staff experience had been gained when Austria 
and Czecho-Slovakia were overrun. That the German commanders 
in the higher grades proved their worth when real war began is 
shown by the fact that two years later those who had been the senior 
commanders in the Polish campaign still held the key positions. 

At the beginning of the invasion of Poland there was doubt in the 
minds of many regarding- the efficiency of the junior leaders, most 
of whom were reserve officers. However, they proved to be quite 


In the following table are listed the principal commanders during 

the Polish campaign: 


Chief of Staff Keitel 

ARMY Von Brauchitsch 

Chief of Staff . Haider 

Southern Group of Armies Von Rundstedt 

Eighth Army Von Blaskowitz 

Tenth Army Von Reichenau 

Fourteenth Army List 

Northern Group of Armies Von Bock 

Third Army Von Kuechler 

Fourth Army Von Kluge 

AIR FORCE .Goering 

Air Fleet One Kesselring 

Air Fleet Four Loehr 

NAVY Raeder 

Naval Units in Polish Campaign Albrecht 

That these men, without exception, measured up to their tasks, 
speaks volumes for the German system of training and selection. 
One advantage that a number of them had was their Ttnowledge of 
the Polish theater. Von Brauchitsch had been the commander in 
East Prussia in 1936, with von Kluge as his chief of staff. Von 
Kuechler was in command there at the outbreak of war. Von 
Rundstedt arrived on the Polish border some months before Ger- 
many attacked. Von Reichenau had once been in command of the 
Konigsberg garrison. 

Two features of German military organization are of particular 
interest. First, the German military machine consists of three 
separate arms : the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. To gain 
proper coordination, Hitler's chief of staff, Keitel, controlled all 
three. To insure cooperation on the Eastern Front, von Brauchitsch 
commanded all elements of the Navy and Air Force that were used 
against Poland. Second, the seaeoast defenses are under the Navy, 
while the antiaircraft artillery is controlled by the Air Force. 

Poland might have increased the fighting power of her inferior 
Army through the construction of a detailed system of permanent 
fortifications, had it not been for Hitler's able political strategy. In 
1934, Poland and Germany signed a non-aggression pact. Because of 
this and her limited resources, Poland for the next five years devoted 
her means to the construction of a fortified line on her Russian border 
(Map 1) . In April of 1939, when war became imminent, she trans- 


ferred her energies to the vital Narew, Vistula, Warta, and Upper 
Silesian lines, but Hitler did not wait for these fortifications to be 
completed. Germany, having misdirected her future enemy, pro- 
ceeded to build a fortified zone near Frankfurt, for the protection of 
Berlin, a "pillbox" line on the East Prussian frontier, and the power- 
ful West Wall, which effectively guarded her western frontier. 


On 1 September, 1939, when Hitler released his forces against 
Poland, he was following a basic strategic principle of von Schlieffen 
— for Germany to eliminate quickly and completely one hostile front 
so that she might turn with her full strength against her other en- 
emies. The Allied Powers had been seriously frightened by Munich, 
and England was beginning to rearm. A dangerous military 
Union of England, France, Yugoslavia, Rumania, and Poland was 
threatening to develop. It was time for Hitler to seize the initiative 
and gain the advantage of surprise. That he decided to attack 
Poland instead of France in 1939 may be attributed to many factors, 
some of which were : 

1. A quick decision could be reached in Poland. 

2. The West Wall could hold longer than the German forti- 
fications in the East. 

3. The Allies probably could not be ready to act before Poland 
could be destroyed. 

4. The Maginot Line might delay an offensive against France 
long enough to allow the Poles to attack the German rear. 

5. A quick victory in the East might have a tremendous effect 
upon the future actions of Rumania, Yugoslavia, and 

6. The elimination of Poland would allow an easy flow of 
Russian goods to Germany. 

Poland, as a theater of war, was admirably suited to the capabilities 
of the modern Nazi war machine. A vast plain, 300 to 1,000 feet 
above sea level, extends north to the Baltic from a line through Cra- 
cow and Lwow. At only three points within this plain are there 
elevations above 2,000 feet: the Lysa Gora Hills near Radom, an 
uneven plateau between Czestochowa and Cracow, and a spur of 
the Carpathians reaching north through Lwow to Lublin. On 
the southern border is the only major terrain obstacle, the High 
Tatra and Carpathian Mountains, rising to heights above 8,000 feet. 
Cutting through these mountains from Slovakia are two major 


passes, the Jablunka and Dukla, at 1,800 and 1,650 feet respectively, 
and a third somewhat higher and narrower pass south of Nowy 

During most of the months of the year the broad, gentle rivers of 
Poland are formidable obstacles. In September and October, how- 
ever, rains may or may not follow the long summer drought. In 
1939, the autumn rains did not arrive until after the Germans had 
completed their advance. The rivers, as a consequence, were ex- 
tremely shallow, even the Vistula being fordable at many points 
above Warsaw. The Polish mud, made famous by Napoleonic cam- 
paigns and the First World War, failed to materialize. German 
mechanized divisions, which might have been partially bogged down 
for days, swept easily over the dry, level plains. 

In general, the German plan (Map 2) was to be an application of 
the principle of "Cannae," as expounded by von Schlieffen. Eighty 
per cent of Germany's fully mobilized strength, to include all of the 
motorized and mechanized divisions and two air fleets, was con- 
centrated on the Polish border before the attack. A light center, 
resting upon the fortifications of Frankfurt, was to defend in place ; 
while two strong wings were to penetrate the dispersed enemy de- 
fenses and envelop the Polish divisions. Further, and contingent 
upon the success of the primary envelopment, a secondary envelop- 
ment was to be inaugurated to trap any enemy units which might 
escape the primary attack. 

One glance at the map of Poland will show how admirably suited 
was such a plan to the Polish terrain. Most of the country's heavy 
industry was centered in an area between Teschen and the Wisloka 
River. Lodz was Poland's greatest manufacturing city, and Gdynia 
was her only outlet to the sea. West of the Vistula, Poland was 
relatively wealthy ; but east of that river the land is poor and was 
sparsely populated. To the German GHQ it appeared probable, 
therefore, that the Poles would hold as long as possible a forward 
position along their weak, six-hundred-mile western frontier. In 
fact, the German high command had received information of a 
Polish concentration plan which contemplated using all divisions 
along the border. Nazi troops in East Prussia and German-held 
Slovakia would be well on the flank of any such forward position. 

Germany's detailed plan contemplated that the Tenth Army of 
von Reichenau and the Third Army of von Kuechler would deliver 
the main attacks of the primary envelopment, directing themselves 
toward the area between Warsaw and Siedlce. On the north flank, 
von Kluge was to push rapidly across the Corridor, protecting von 


Kuechler's right. He was to make contact with von Kuechler near 
Graudenz and was to reinforce the latter's army with some of the 
elements of the Fourth Army. Blaskowitz and List were to push 
forward to protect the flanks of the southern pincer. List, in ad- 
dition, was to have the mission of enveloping, without destroying, 
the industrial area of Teschen, Cracow, and Tarnow. To execute 
this secondary mission, he was to direct a main effort from Marisch 
Ostrau toward Cracow, to be met by successive drives from Slovakia 
through the mountain passes near Neumarkt, Nowy Sacz, and 
Sanok. Still further, he was to move as rapidly as possible to the 
vicinity of Lwow and there block the retreat of the enemy into 
neutral Rumania. 

The execution of the secondary double envelopment was to be 
extremely flexible as to time, place, and forces engaged. Its scope 
was to depend on Polish reaction to the primary envelopment. Units 
were to be concentrated as rapidly as possible near Johannisburg 
and Lwow for use in this later phase of the attack. 

Many reasons have been advanced for Germany's having used two 
separate envelopments instead of a single attack whose pincers 
would join well to the east of Warsaw. Probably the principal con- 
sideration was Germany's inability to concentrate sufficient forces 
in East Prussia and Slovakia prior to the attack. Though some 
reinforcements were brought into East Prussia before the outbreak 
of hostilities, others had to be transferred across the Corridor as the 
advance progressed. 


The detailed Polish plans have not as yet become known ; so their 
exact nature is still the subject of much argument and doubt. From 
the original dispositions, it appears that, desiring to hold as long as 
possible her richer western terrain, Poland adopted a cordon defense 
of her thousand-mile border. It is possible that she planned a delay- 
ing action if pressure on her border position became too great, with 
the intention of taking up a final position behind the strong Narew- 
Bug- Vistula-San River line. There is also some evidence to indicate 
that Polish cavalry planned a diversion from the Posen salient on 

Polish plans for defense contemplated the formation of six groups 
of divisions, each group being roughly the equivalent of a field army. 
The 30 infantry divisions, 10 cavalry brigades, and one mechanized 
brigade which were available at the outbreak of war were all assigned 


to the six groups. Smigly-Ritz evidently planned to create his 
general reserve from divisions not yet mobilized. When the German 
Air Force disrupted the mobilization of these divisions, he was left 
without a general reserve. 

The initial dispositions of the six groups of the Polish Army are 
shown on Map 2. Only two cavalry brigades were left along the 
eastern frontier to observe the Russians. 

Until the last moment the Poles expected aid from France and 
England. They hoped for a determined diversion, such as the self- 
crucifying attacks of Russia in the First World War. The Allies 
were ill-prepared for such an effort ; and, except for the half-hearted 
French advance into the Saar, no attempt was forthcoming. 


The Break-Through, 1-5 September (Map 3). — At 5:00 A. M., 
1 September, 1939, the German armies struck. 

In the south, the Fourteenth Army (List) aimed a double blow 
at Cracow. One attack group struck east from Marisch Ostrau ; a 
second moved northeast from the Zilina area via Neumarkt. By 5 
September, these groups had broken the resistance opposed to them 
and had made contact near Cracow, and on this same day a third 
attack group from List's army advanced north from Zips on Nowy 
Sacz. Their action, combined with a deep penetration by the 
Tenth Army to the north of Katowice, rendered the important Upper 
Silesian industrial area untenable, and its hurried evacuation by the 
Polish troops precluded any effective destruction of its mines or 

The strong Tenth Army (von Reichenau) consisted of at least two 
corps composed of infantry divisions and of two mechanized corps, 
the latter being the XVI of Lieutenant General Hoepner and the XV 
of General Hoth. This army concentrated its forces along the 
Silesian-Polish frontier between the towns of Kreuzberg and Tar- 
nowice. One of the mechanized corps was on its left flank. Ad- 
ditional active and reserve divisions were disposed in rear to give 
depth to this the main-attack force of the German offensive. 

The advance of the Tenth Army was opposed in its initial stages 
by four Polish infantry divisions and one cavalry brigade.* These 
troops were concentrated close to the frontier. Part were behind 
the half -completed pillbox line of the Warta River ; part were in the 
area west of Czestochowa. The remaining four divisions of the Polish 
Silesian Group were far to the east and out of supporting distance. 

* Another Polish division was on the frontier initially, but apparently retired 
northeastward without opposing the advance of the Tenth Army. 


Striking hard along its front, the Tenth Army quickly overran the 
Warta line and captured the city of Czestochowa. The mechanized 
corps on its north flank reached Radomsko, a town 50 miles from , 
the frontier, by 3 September. This advance outflanked the Polish 
defenses to the south, along the Warta, which were being attacked 
frontally by the infantry of the Tenth Army. Portions of the 
mechanized corps struck south and enveloped this resistance. By 
4 September, the Polish front opposite the Tenth Army was dis- 
integrating. Three divisions retreated toward Tomaszow Maz, and 
one toward Lodz. The remaining division of the frontier forces 
was encircled and annihilated near Czestochowa. 

The retreat of four of the Polish divisions to the northeast and 
the annihilation of the division near Czestochowa created a gap in 
the Polish front. Through this gap raced the two German mecha- 
nized corps. By evening of 5 September, they reached the line 
Piotrkow-Checiny, closely followed by the infantry moving by forced 

The Polish Silesian Group had lost all cohesion. One division had 
been destroyed. Four were withdrawing northeastward, while the 
remaining four, initially in reserve, were withdrawing eastward 
towards the security afforded by the Vistula River. The Tenth Ger- 
man Army had won a' tactical success of the first magnitude and had 
advanced 70 miles in five days. 

The Eighth German Army (Blaskowitz) , much the weakest of the 
southern group of armies, concentrated its forces in middle Silesia 
between Trebnitz and Kreuzberg. Its mission was to protect the 
north flank of the Tenth Army. Having disposed its divisions in 
echelon to its left rear, to guard against a possible Polish thrust from 
the direction of Posen and Kalisz, this army pushed aside the single 
Polish division on its front and by evening of 5 September had 
captured Zdunska Wola and had established bridgeheads to the east 
of the Warta River from which its further advance toward Lodz 
could be launched. 

The Fourth Army (von Kluge) effected its concentrations prior 
to 1 September in two groupings. The stronger, consisting of three 
corps, was drawn up along the German frontier in the area around 
Schneidemuhl and faced the broad base of the Corridor. A weaker 
corps concentrated in the vicinity of Butow, opposite' the seacoast 
section of the Corridor. 

Von Kluge's mission was to reduce the Corridor in the shortest 
possible time by an advance with the bulk of his army to the Vistula 
River between Bromberg and Graudenz. He was then to effect a 
crossing of that river on both sides of Chelmo and continue to advance 
in the direction of Modlin and Warsaw. 


The main effort of the Fourth Army was to be made by the II Corps 
under General Strauss, consisting initially of three divisions in first 
line and several more in reserve. Its south flank was secured by a 
weak corps. On its north flank was a mixed corps of mechanized 
and motorized divisions under General Guderian, the peacetime in- 
spector of the German mechanized troops. This main effort was to 
be supported by a supplementary attack by the XXI Corps of von 
Kuechler's Third Army, which had been given the independent mis- 
sion of attacking Graudenz. The combined attack was intended to 
pinch off the Corridor and cut off all Polish troops that might remain 

The attack of von Kluge's army proved extremely successful. By 
4 September, the line of the Vistula and Netze Rivers between 
Marienwerder and Naklo had been reached. This rapid advance, 
which trapped some 25,000 Polish troops, had been materially aided 
by the bold movements of General Guderian's mechanized corps 
operating on the north flank. Here the 3d Panzer Division opened 
up a five-mile gap in the Polish line and, without regard to the secur- 
ity of its flanks, pushed speedily on to the Vistula River. , 

The advance of the German corps from Butow into the maritime 
region of the Corridor encountered strong resistance from Polish 
reserve and naval shore formations. The fighting in this area, al- 
though not of any strategic importance, was of an extremely fierce 
nature. It was not until 15 September that the Germans occupied 
Gdynia, and the Hela peninsula held out until 1 October. 

Following the crossing at Chelmo on the night of 4-5 September, the 
Fourth Army pushed out strong bridgeheads and made contact with 
the XXI Corps near Graudenz. 

The Third Army (von Kuechler) concentrated its main forces 
prior to 1 September in the area Osterode-Neidenburg-AHenstein, 
preparatory to breaking through the Polish fortified lines on both 
sides of Mlawa. It was then to push its advance southeastward over 
the Narew and Bug Rivers to the area east of Warsaw. The occu- 
pation of this area was the principal army objective. 

As already noted, the XXI Corps of the Third Army was given the 
mission of capturing Graudenz, thereby assisting von Kluge's army in 
closing the Corridor. This task was completed on 5 September, and 
contact was established south of the city with units of the Fourth 
Army. ' 

The main-attack force of von Kuechler's army, consisting of three 
infantry divisions, one panzer division, and one cavalry brigade, 
plus a number of reserve units, concentrated to the north of Mlawa. 
During the 1st and 2d, this force met strong Polish resistance in its 


efforts to capture the town. German tank attacks were repulsed. 
During the night of 2-3 September, the main effort of the attack was 
shifted to the east, and the motorized elements of the army moved 
from the vicinity of Mlawa to Willenberg. This move caught the 
Polish forces unawares, and by evening of 3 September the Third 
Army had captured the important road junction of Przasnysz. This 
advance caused the Polish forces defending Mlawa to withdraw 
towards Warsaw. 

During the 4th and 5th, the German troops continued their advance 
towards the Narew River, and by the evening of 5 September the left 
wing of these forces had reached Rozan, while the right wing had 
captured Ciechanow. The frontier line of Polish fortifications had 
been pierced, and contact had been made with the main defensive 
positions along the Narew River. 

General von Brauchitsch, on 5 September, began a regrouping of 
his northern forces. Strong reinforcements (23d Division and 3d 
Panzer Division) were transferred to von Kuechler's Third Army 
for its attack on Bialystok and Brest Litovsk, an operation from 
which the German high command hoped for decisive strategic re- 
sults. These divisions crossed the Corridor in trucks and on foot 
during the 5th and 6th of September, and after reaching the East 
Prussian railheads, entrained for new concentration areas in the 
eastern part of East Prussia. 

While the ground troops were gaining brilliant successes, the Ger- 
man Air Force was playing a most important part. It opened its 
attack at dawn on 1 September with a mass bombardment of the 
ground installations of the Polish Air Force. During the next three 
days every known Polish airdrome was repeatedly bombed. So 
devastatingly efficient was this all-out air offensive that the Polish 
Air Force ceased to exist before it had had an opportunity to func- 
tion. As early as 3 September, the weight of the German air attack 
was shifted to the railroad lines west of the Vistula, in order to pre- 
vent the use of these lines for the regrouping and withdrawal of the 
Polish forces, and by 5 September air attacks were being directed 
against Polish troop columns. During this period, also, most of the 
known Polish aircraft factories were destroyed, as well as the large 
ammunition works at Sandomir. 

The Exploitation, 6-8 September (Map 4). — We next turn to the 
renewed operations of the ground and air forces for the period 6-8 
September, during which the Germans exploited their successful 


From the west and south of Cracow, General List's Fourteenth 
Army moved rapidly northeast and east against the retreating Polish 
Cracow and Przemysl Groups, which were striving to reach the San 
River line without offering decisive battle to their pursuers. There 
are indications that Polish GHQ at Warsaw, even this early in the 
campaign, had lost touch with its southern groups, and that, in con- 
sequence, the commanders of these groups were left to act on their 
own responsibility. 

On 6 September, the Marisch Ostrau attack group captured Cra- 
cow, the principal city of southern Poland. No opposition was 
offered. The Zips attack group occupied Nowy Sacz and pushed on 
toward the Wisloka River. On 8 September the Galician towns of 
Tarnow and Gorlice were taken and a bridgehead seized at Debica 
on the east bank of the Wisloka. 

The Tenth Army, on the evening of 5 September, lay stretched out 
on a broad front of some seventy miles from Piotrkow to Checiny. 
A panzer corps under Hoepner was concentrated around Piotrkow, 
while the other panzer corps of the army, under Hoth, stood on the 
right flank observing the enemy divisions to the south around Cracow 
and guarding against a hostile attack from that direction. 

The Polish divisions of the Silesian Group, which had opposed 
\Reichenau's initial assault, were on this day withdrawing northward 
toward Lodz, while the four reserve divisions of that group, origi- 
nally near Tomaszow Maz, were returning eastward towards the 
Vistula with the intention of halting a German pursuit along the line 
of the Lysa Gora Hills in front of Radom. This eccentric with- 
drawal opened up a gap in front of Reichenau's left wing and center. 
Between Piotrkow and Warsaw no Polish force of any strength op- 
posed Reichenau's advance. The best paved road in all Poland 
stretched between the two cities. At Piotrkow, Hoepner 's powerful 
panzer corps stood ready. A situation had developed which per- 
mitted mechanized troops, for the first time in history, to show their 
strategic capabilities. 

Reichenau's advance on the 6th, 7th, and 8th assumed the character 
of a headlong race. Hoepner's panzer corps reached Tomaszow Maz 
on 6 September. From this city the advance continued toward 
Warsaw. One mechanized column captured Rawa Mazowiecka on 
the 7th, and reached the southwestern suburbs of Warsaw by the 
evening of the following day. The right column of the panzer corps 
took a more easterly route, via Gora Kalwaria and thence along the 
west bank of the Vistula. This column also reached the outskirts 
of Warsaw on the evening of the 8th. Neither column, however, 
was sufficiently concentrated to undertake the occupation of the city, 


although resistance at first appeared to be slight and unorganized. 
Hoepner's corps had far outstripped the Tenth Army's infantry 
divisions, which on this evening were reported to be some seventy 
miles in rear of the mechanized units. Caution was called for. 
Very strong and undefeated Polish forces were believed to be located 
in and around Lodz, threatening the left flank and rear of the panzer 

Hoepner's penetration had altered the strategic situation. • Strong 
elements of the Thorn, Posen, and Silesian Groups lay to the west of 
this German wedge. From this time on the further retreat of these 
troops was to be a difficult operation. Poland's military situation 
was desperate, and only a miracle could postpone the destruction of 
her forces. 

While Reichenau's left wing was advancing on Warsaw, his center 
and right continued to advance in the direction of the Lysa Gora 
Hills and Radom. The important city of Kielce was taken on the 
6th, and by the 7th the army was engaged in a frontal battle with the 
3d and 12th Polish Divisions in and around Skarzysko Kamienna. 
The 19th and 29th Divisions of this Polish group were on this day 
withdrawing from Tomaszow Maz through Radom to the safety 
offered by the Vistula River. 

The withdrawal of the Polish Cracow Group from Cracow east- 
ward had relieved General Hoth's panzer corps of the necessity 
of further protecting Reichenau's right flank, which was no longer 
in danger. Reichenau's mission was now to prevent the successful 
withdrawal of the enemy's divisions at Radom and in the Lysa Gora 
Hills. Hoth's panzer corps, concentrated to the southeast of Kielce, 
was directed to advance along the west bank of the Vistula in the 
general direction of Zwolen and to cut the lines of Polish retreat 
between Radom and the river. The advance of the corps was ex- 
tremely rapid. It captured both Zwolen and Radom during the 
afternoon and evening of the 8th. This movement cut across the line 
of retreat of four Polish divisions. 

The advance of the Eighth Army (Blaskowitz) during this phase 
of the operations continued in a northeasterly direction without 
important incidents. On the 6th and 7th of September, advances of 
normal depths were made from the Warta bridgeheads. On the 8th, 
the army passed on both sides of Lodz, without, however, occupying 
the city, and towards evening reached Ozorkow and Brzeziny. 

During this advance the 30th Division marched echeloned to the 
left flank of the Eighth Army, so as to prevent interference with the 
army's movements by the strong Polish forces known to be located 
in the province of Posen. It is noteworthy that, on the 8th, Blasko- 


Witz was entirely unaware of the fact that a strong Polish force of 
about five divisions, which had begun to withdraw from Kalisz, 
Posen, and Thorn, was fast approaching the army's left flank. The 
failure of the German intelligence service to function on this occasion 
was to result in the grave crisis which befell the Eighth Army during 
the succeeding week. It was momentarily to threaten the success 
of the entire German plan of campaign. 

The German Fourth Army, which had been weakened by the 
transfer of some of its troops to the Third Army, continued its 
advance on both sides of the Vistula River. By 8 September, the 
III Corps, operating on the right of the army, had advanced close to 
Honensalza, pushing on the heels of the Polish forces withdrawing 
from Posen and Thorn on Warsaw. On this same day the II Corps, 
moving along the east side of the Vistula, had captured Strasburg 
and had crossed the Drewence River. Only weak detachments 
barred the further advance of this corps on Modlin. 

By the night of 5 September, the striking force of the Third Army 
(von Kuechler) stood in two groupments, one at Ciechanow and the 
other facing Rozan on the Narew River. Up to the 5th, the direction 
of attack, of the army had been due south, towards Modlin and War- 
saw. However, it had been the intention of the army commander 
from the outset not to run f rontally against the fortifications protect- 
ing the Polish capital on the north, but rather to drive southeastward 
over the Narew and Bug Rivers toward Siedlce, a city fifty miles east 
of Warsaw, the capture of which would result in isolating the Polish 
capital. During 5 September, the troop movements necessary to 
effect this change of front were in progress. 

The Narew was crossed on 7 September at Pultusk and Rozan, 
and on the 8th the German pursuit towards the Bug River, in the 
direction of Wyzkow and Brok, was initiated. This forcing of the 
Narew was an important success and profoundly influenced the en- 
tire strategic situation. The line of the Narew was the only Polish 
defensive position north of Warsaw, and on its retention depended 
the ultimate fate of both the Polish capital and the whole Vistula 
position. Once across the Narew, the road into the interior of Poland 
was open to the Third Army. The crossing of the river started 
the sequence of events which led to the surrender of Warsaw and 
the Polish field forces.. 

While the Narew was being crossed, a new and strong concentra- 
tion of the Third Army was being effected in the area Lyck-Johannis- 
burg, preparatory to advancing in the directions of Bialystok and 
Brest Litovsk. However, the movement of this force across the 
frontier did not take place until 9 September. 


During the period 6-8 September, the German Air Force continued 
its operations against the Polish air fields and the communications 
system of western Poland. Repeated heavy bombing attacks were 
made against the railroads leading from Thorn, Posen, and Kalisz 
toward the Polish capital. The object of these attacks was to retard 
the regrouping of the Posen and Thorn troops, which were known 
to be attempting to retire eastward. 

On the 8th, the German Air Force struck a-telling blow by destroy- 
ing the Vistula bridges near Deblin. This added further to the 
difficulties of the four Polish divisions near Radom, whose retreat 
to the Vistula was already menaced by General Hoth's panzer carps. 

On 8 September, the main Polish forces west of Warsaw were in 
a critical situation. With transportation and communication facil- 
ities destroyed by the German Air Force, these confused and harassed 
divisions were now at the mercy of their opponents, who proceeded to 
close the already partially drawn net. 

The Encirclement, 9-14 September (Map 5). — The operations of 
the Fourteenth Army (List) during the period September 9-14 took 
on the character of a pursuit. Nowhere did the Polish divisions of 
the Cracow and Przemysl Groups seek to offer strong resistance. 
By the evening of the 8th, the troops of the Fourteenth Army had 
reached the general line Gorlice-Debica-Pinczow. In their front the 
Polish units were seeking to withdraw to defensive positions behind 
the San River. This withdrawal, which was not everywhere carried 
out in an orderly manner, was made in two directions. The Cracow 
Group adopted a northeasterly direction of retirement toward Chelm, 
in order to defend the lower San and the Vistula from Zawichost to 
Lezajsk ; the Przemysl Group, on the other hand, retired due east- 
ward in the direction of Lwow, so as to bar the upper San River 
to the German pursuers. The latter group now consisted of but two 

The advance of the Fourteenth Army during this period was ex- 
ceptionally rapid. It appears that the two mechanized divisions of 
the army cut loose from the foot divisions and sought to take advan- 
tage of their high speed to seize the San crossings before these could 
be organized for defense. 

On the 9th and 10th of September, the Fourteenth Army seized 
crossings over the San at Radymno, Jaroslaw, and Sanok and during 
the next three days pursued the retreating Polish forces with increas- 
ing speed. On the 12th, the army's right wing reached Sambor and 
sent forward towards Lwow a strong detachment of infantry in 
requisitioned trucks. Mechanized units, coming from Przemysl, 


reached the outskirts of Lwow on the same day. For the next few 
days a series of confused battles occurred in the environs of thafrlarge 
city. Thirty miles to the west, two Polish divisions seeking to retire 
to the east were intercepted near Grodek and their retreat brought 
to a standstill. 

To the northwest of Lwow, mechanized units succeeded, on 13 
September, in getting across the Lublin-Lemberg highway at Tomas- 
zow and Rawa Ruska. The main elements of the Polish Cracow 
Group were on this day in the vicinity of Bilgoraj, along the east 
bank of the San, far in rear of these German mechanized forces. 

The seizure of the San River line was an important strategic suc- 
cess for the Germans. This was the last suitable defensive position 
in southern Poland. Eastern Galicia now stood defenseless before 
the German invader, and the retirement of the Polish forces in the 
south to Rumania was no longer possible. Nothing remained for the 
Cracow Group at Bilgoraj but to seek to continue its retreat to the 
northeast, in the hope of finding temporary respite in the roadless 
and resourceless Pripet Marshes. 

During the period 9-14 September, the Tenth Army (Reichenau) 
fought in two distinct combat groups in far-separated areas. The 
left wing of the army suffered a check in its first efforts to capture 
Warsaw, and then participated with varying fortune in the desperate 
battles fought by the Eighth Army against the Polish forces that 
were seeking to cut their way through to the capital; During these 
days the right wing of the army was engaged seventy miles to the 
south and won an annihilating victory at Radom, where four Polish 
divisions were surrounded and captured. The operations of this 
wing of von Reichenau's army furnish a most interesting example 
of the German use of mechanized units. On 8 September, as already 
noted, General Hoth's panzer corps had cut across the line of with- 
drawal of the 3d, 12th, 19th, and 29th Polish Divisions at Radom and 
Zwolen, barring their retreat across the Vistula. This interception 
did not, however, insure the destruction of these units. The panzer 
corps was not strong enough to force the surrender of over 60,000 
men. Assistance was necessary. This was provided by the pursu- 
ing German foot divisions, which were enacting the role of the direct- 
pressure force in the pursuit. During the 9th and 10th, the encircle- 
ment of the Polish divisions was completed, and these troops, after 
futile efforts to break the ring, surrendered on the 12th. A few 
stragglers alone succeeded in finding their way across the Vistula. 

The action on the front of Reichenau's left wing did not progress 
so favorably for the Germans. The efforts made by detachments of 
Hoepner's panzer corps to capture Warsaw were repulsed, and be- 


fore reinforcements could arrive in sufficient numbers to launch a 
determined attack against the city, developments on the front of the 
Eighth Army made it imperative to move all available troops from 
the Tenth Army to reinforce the former. 

On the evening of 8 September, the columns of the Eighth Army 
(Blaskowitz) , after passing Lodz to the east and west, had reached 
Ozorkow and Brzeziny. Lodz itself, according to the plan, was not 
to be occupied until the 9th. The army commander hoped to seize 
the line of the Bzura on the next day and thereby to carry out his 
mission of protecting the left flank of the Tenth Army. Polish units 
were known to be in and around Kutno and along the Bzura. These 
forces, however, were gravely underestimated. The German high 
command estimated the strength at five infantry divisions and two 
cavalry brigades ; the actual strength was twelve infantry divisions 
and two cavalry brigades. Over half of these units had not been 
engaged. They outnumbered the Eighth Army by more than two 
to one. 

From the opening day of the campaign, General Blaskowitz had 
carefully watched his left flank. He had echeloned the 30th Division 
behind his left-flank corps. As events developed, this disposition 
proved to be the army's salvation. 

Early on the 9th, the Eighth Army took the offensive against the 
line of the Bzura. Vague as was the situation on the army's front, 
Blaskowitz was merely following the German military doctrine, 
which is that in a doubtful situation the offensive is the best policy. 

The initial attacks of the German Eighth Army were successful in 
spite of heavy casualties. Soon, however, Polish strength asserted 
itself. The forward progress of the Germans was stopped, and 
Polish counterattacks began along the entire front. On the German 
left, in the zone of the 30th Division, a crisis developed. Five Polish 
divisions struck this unit in flank, cut off its advance guard, and 
forced it to withdraw. 

The situation was saved by three German counteractions. The, 
Tenth Army diverted every available man and tank from the vicinity 
of Warsaw to the zone of Blaskowitz's army. The Polish attacks 
were stopped by these reinforcements. As a second measure, re- 
serve divisions following closely on the heels of the Eighth Army 
were rushed into action. Finally, strong bombardment elements of 
the German Air Force were taken off their strategic missions and 
launched against the Polish ground forces facing Blaskowitz. By 
15 September, all danger to the Eighth Army had passed and the 
Germans resumed the offensive. 


The operations of the Fourth Army (von Kluge) during this 
period consisted principally of marching. On the 8th, this army 
was divided into two groups, one on each side of the Vistula. One 
group, consisting only of foot divisions, moved southeastward in a 
series of forced marches to join in the great battle raging between 
Kutno and Lodz. By the 15th, this group was approaching the 
former city and was preparing to assist the efforts of the Eighth and 
Tenth Armies. By the evening of the same date, the daily advances 
of the other group had placed it in front of the fortress of Modlin, 
from which it effectively blocked the retreat to the north of the Polish 
forces around Kutno. 

By 8 September, the Third Army (von Kuechler) had forced the 
fortified line of the Narew River between Pultusk and Rozan. Dur- 
ing the succeeding days the army exploited this success and moved 
against the rear communications of Warsaw. By the 12th, the 
railroad lines leading from that city to Bialystok and Siedlce had 
been cut. By the 14th, a line of investment opposite the capital city 
had been occupied and its encirclement completed. One Polish divi- 
sion had retreated in the direction of Siedlce, followed by elements 
of the German Third Army. 

The second major operation of the Third Army commenced on 9 
September. On this day the strong group of divisions which had 
assembled in the Lyck-Johannisburg area moved on Brest Litovsk. 
The advance of this force was weakly opposed, and by the 14th it had 
captured Brest Litovsk. Small Polish forces in the area were either 
cut up or captured. Any possibility of a Polish stand east of War- 
saw was ended by this maneuver. 

During the encirclement of the Polish forces by the ground troops, 
the German Air Force, as in the previous period, carried out a series 
of large-scale bombardment operations designed to paralyze the 
entire railroad net east of the Vistula and to prevent the transport 
westward by rail of the reserve units known to be completing their 
organization in eastern Poland. These, operations were interrupted 
between the 11th and 14th of September by the diversion of sqoScP - 
rons to the assistance of the hard-pressed Eighth Army north of 

The Annihilation, 15-28 September (Map 6). — The final phase of 
the campaign deals with the annihilation of the trapped Polish divi- 
sions. It was during this period that Poland was invaded from the 
east by Russian armies. However, this invasion did not have an 
important effect on the final outcome of the campaign. At the time 
the invasion began, Polish resistance had been completely broken 
and all avenues of retreat had been blocked. 


By the evening of 14 September, the center group of the Four- 
teenth Army (List) had reached, with its advanced mechanized 
elements, the outskirts of Lwow and had placed a thin outpost 
line around three sides of the city. The right wing of the army was 
in the vicinity of Sambor. The bulk of the mechanized forces, func- 
tioning as the advance guard of the left wing, were across the 
Lublin-Lwow highway between Tomaszow and Rawa Ruska. 

The Polish forces in Galicia, already half demoralized by their 
long retreat and much weakened by straggling, stood in two main 
groups. The larger, comprising some five infantry divisions and a 
mechanized brigade, was slowly withdrawing to the northeast and 
by the 15th was along the San River to the southeast of Sandomir. 
The smaller group, composed of two infantry divisions, lay between 
Przemysl and Lwow. The further withdrawal of this latter force 
to Lwow had been blocked by the German mechanized forces near 
that city. Its line of retreat to Rumania had been barred by the 
German detachments in Sambor. 

On the 16th, serious fighting began between the left wing of 
General List's army and the strong Polish Cracow Group around the 
town of Bilgoraj. The Polish withdrawal had been .intercepted by 
German mechanized troops in the region between Zamosc and Chelm, 
and German infantry divisions had come up from the west and south- 
west to join in the fighting. The battles around Bilgoraj, in which 
units of von Reichenau's army participated, continued until the 20th. 
On that day some 60,000 Poles laid down their arms, among them 
the commanding general of the Polish groups of the south, General 
Pekor. Remnants of this Polish force eluded the German net, only 
to fall victims to the advancing Russian armies a few days later. 

Of the Polish Przemysl Group, some 10,000 were captured near 
Rawa Ruska on the 18th. Small detachments of this force escaped 
to the southeast and, eluding the Russians, reached safety and intern- 
ment in Rumania and Hungary. 

On the 17th, scouting elements of the motorized reconnaissance 
battalions of General List's army made contact with similar units 
from General Kuechler's army near Wlodawa. This junction com- 
pleted the first stage of the outer double envelopment of the Polish 
forces. The outer net was still but a thin screen and might have 
been penetrated by any Polish attack in force. The surrender of 
the Polish troops at Warsaw, Kutno, and Bilgoraj made the outer 
net unnecessary, but its existence shows the thorough indoctriniza- 
tion of the German high command in the principles of annihilation 
laid down years before by Count von Schlieffen. 


The Tenth Army (Reichenau) , during this phase of the operations, 
continued. to fight in two groups. While the left wing of the army 
cooperated with General Blaskowitz's Eighth Army and a part of 
General von Kluge's Fourth Army in forcing the surrender of the 
Polish forces between Kutno and the Bzura, the right wing continued 
its advance towards Lublin, an advance initiated on the 13th when 
bridgeheads across the Vistula had been established near Pulawy and 
Annopol. It was a part of this wing that assisted the troops under 
List in forcing the surrender of the Polish units at Bilgoraj. 

The concentric attack of the German armies on the Polish forces 
surrounded near Kutno began on the 15th. The Tenth Army at- 
tacked west from Warsaw. The Eighth Army pressed from the 
south against the line of the Bzura. The right column of the Fourth 
Army advanced southeast from Wloclawek on Kutno. Other forces 
of the Fourth Army stood along the north bank of the Vistula from 
Plock to Wysogrod, barring a Polish withdrawal across the river. 

This concentric attack by large German forces rapidly broke all 
Polish resistance. All efforts to break out of this ring of fire proved 
futile. By the 17th, the Polish forces had been pressed together 
into a ve*ry narrow area between the Vistula and the Bzura southwest 
of Wysogrod. There, harassed on all sides by the ever-increasing 
pressure of the encircling forces and bombed from the air by the 
German Air Force, 170,000 Poles laid down their arms in one of the 
greatest surrenders of a field army in all military history. 

While this gigantic battle of annihilation was being brought to a 
close west of Warsaw, units of the German Third and Fourth Armies 
were drawing tight the lines of blockade around Warsaw and Modlin ; 
and to the east, near Siedlce, other elements of the Third Army were 
rounding up Polish forces seeking to escape to the southeast. In this 
area, 12,000 officers and men of the Polish 1st Division were forced 
to surrender. 

The air operations during this phase were much less extensive 
than in previous periods, but were nevertheless important. Bomb- 
ing expeditions were carried out against Polish troop concentrations 
and columns in the regions east of the Vistula. The airfields adjoin- 
ing the Russian border were extensively bombed, and the last re- 
maining Polish radio stations were destroyed. As already noted, the 
German Air Force also played an important role in the last phase of 
the Battle of the Bzura, bombing enemy troops and spreading the 
demoralization that was fast seizing the Polish forces in this area. 

The only Polish troops at large on 20 September in the German- 
occupied portion of Poland were: the garrison of Warsaw; the 
garrison of Modlin; the naval garrison of the Hela peninsula; 


small forces in Lwow; and a considerable number of Polish units, 
mostly reserve formations, in the area between Deblin and Lublin. 

Lwow surrendered on 21 September. On 22 September, the 
German forces in this region began a withdrawal to the San River in 
accordance with an agreement with Russia. The naval garrison on 
the Hela peninsula surrendered on 1 October. 

Of particular interest during this final phase of the campaign is 
the capture of Warsaw and its sister fortress, Modlin. On 22 Sep- 
tember, Blaskowitz and von Kuechler were beseiging Warsaw from 
their positions on the two sides of Vistula, while Strauss with a 
special group was operating against Modlin. On this day, both 
Blaskowitz and von Kuechler delivered a successful series of limited 
attacks, drawing in their siege lines about the city. 

Commencing on the 24th, an intense artillery and aerial bombard- 
ment was loosed on the capital and continued unabated until the 27th. 
It is reported that as a result of this bombardment about 20 per cent 
of all the houses in Warsaw were destroyed and that about 60 per cent 
received one or more hits. 

On 25 September, a coordinated infantry attack was made against 
the city. The following interesting account is an extract from the 
report of an American officer who visited the field of battle immedi- 
ately after the fall of Warsaw. It describes attacks tm an antiquated 
fort line along the western outskirts of the city near the suburb of 
Mokotow : 

Another interesting action 'was the attack of an infantry regi- 
ment, reinforced with one regiment of light and one battalion of 
medium artillery, against the southern part of Warsaw, through 
the suburb' of Mokotow. 

This attack was described in much detail by General Gallwitzer, 
the regimental commander, who had been promoted to general in 
recognition of his conduct of the attack. He took us over the 
ground, largely on foot, and pointed out even individual houses 
that had been stubbornly defended. 

Mokotow, with an old fort lying about 1,500 yards west thereof, 
was a completely fortified area. A deep ditch connected the town 
with the fort. This ditch served as a tank obstacle to protect the 
areas between the two against tank attacks, and also as a covered 
route to transfer troops from one to the other. 

A main road entered the town from the southwest, each side 
flanked by separate villas constructed of stone and bricks. Toward 
the center of the suburb the buildings became larger, up to four 
stories high and fifty yards square, and included such buildings as 
a hospital and apartment houses. Much of this construction was 
new and of concrete. 

The Poles had organized each and every building for defense. 
Outside doors, as well as stairways, were barricaded from the 


inside with sandbags. Holes were broken through the floors 
and roof and communication maintained by means of ladders. 
Where buildings had common walls, holes were broken through 
on each floor. One of these houses was the dwelling of a Peruvian 

Machine guns were so placed at street crossings that the inter- 
secting streets could be swept with fire. Artillery was emplaced 
at the ends of streets so that the guns could fire point-blank 
down the street. Stone sidewalks were then torn up and used 
to build barricades across the streets.' Streetcars were also used 
for this purpose. 

Riflemen in pairs were placed in rooms behind sandbags, well 
back from windows. From such positions they could fire without 
being located. 

Artillery was placed in parks and open squares all through the 
the city so that it was screened from observation from the front. 
On 24 September, the German Air Force bombed all military ob- 
jectives, first with explosives and then with incendiary bombs. 

After a fifteen-minute artillery preparation, commencing at noon 
on 25 September, the German regiment attacked with two bat- 
talions in the front line. One battalion advanced astride the main 
road, leading from the southwest, with the right battalion east 
thereof. The approach led over cut grassland and potato patches, 
and was, for 500 yards, quite easy until both battalions were met 
by heavy well-aimed rifle fire from the edge of town. The fire 
could not be returned effectively because it was impossible to ob- 
serve from where it was coming. The attack suffered considerable 
losses in continuing another 500 yards to the edge of the suburb 
itself. There it was brought to a complete stop by the heavy flank- 
ing fire coming from all directions from the houses. 

In renewing the attack, the Germans either had to destroy 
each building by artillery fire or carry on operations with engineers 
and infantry against each house. After taking one, they had to 
cover each window of the next house with fire and then break 
through its walls. Several unsuccessful attempts were made with 
infantry heavy weapons to silence a Polish field piece, which was 
set up in strong earthworks so that it enfiladed a main street 
and was breaking up the whole attack of the battalion. It was 
finally necessary to bring up a 105-mm. gun to silence the field 
piece and allow the attack to proceed. 

The Germans sustained exceptionally heavy losses in this action 
in spite of their strong artillery support. It shows again the 
great defensive value of towns and villages when properly utilized. 

Under great difficulties, the attack continued about one kilometer 
farther into the town. At noon on the 27th, it was -discontinued 
because of an armistice preceding the surrender of the city. 

On 27 September, the garrison of Warsaw capitulated, and that 
of Modlin, no doubt influenced by the fall of the capital, followed 
suit. Forces in the area east of Deblin offered resistance until 5 
October. The campaign in Poland was at an end. 



Thus in ab.out four weeks one of Europe's great armies was en- 
veloped, disorganized, and annihilated. Yet from this campaign the 
major Allies profited but little. Military men, studying the con- 
quests, condemned the Poles instead of recognizing German poten- 
tialities. Certain lessons, which now seem apparent, went unheeded ; 
and France continued to make only halfhearted preparations behind 
her fortifications. Looking backward and commenting after the fact 
is always easy. Many men have been able to find fault with Napo- 
leon, but no man has approached his achievements. Nevertheless, it 
is now apparent that certain lessons could have been learned from the 
conquest of Poland. It might have been realized that the offensive 
had again become the king of the battlefield; that Germany once 
more had a powerful, well-trained army, and that it was capable of 
turning the war into one of maneuver ; that modern weapons, more 
than man power and fortifications, might be the proper index of a 
nation's combat power. 

The erroneous impression has arisen from the rapidity with which 
it was concluded, and from the overwhelming success of the German 
Army, that the campaign was little more than a maneuver which 
failed to afford a real test of German.battle efficiency. This view 
neglects the fact that the German casualties, as officially published, 
were over 10,000 killed, 30,000 wounded, and 3,000 missing; When 
it is remembered that the most of the casualties were incurred within 
a period of eight days, the campaign in Poland can be recognized 
as a major military operation in which the Polish Army offered a 
stubborn resistance, and which required a major effort on the part 
of Germany. 

Although the Polish plan was faulty in its strategic conception, 
the complete collapse of the defense was due not so much to poor 
strategy and leadership as to the overwhelming superiority of the 
Germans, who broke Polish resistance during the first four days of 
the campaign and prevented the Poles from carrying into execution 
their plan to make a final stand behind the Vistula. Further, this 
remarkable success of the Germans was not due solely to the Air 
Force and the mechanized troops, but must be ascribed to a field force 
with a balanced organization and a balanced armament, executing a 
plan under excellent leadership. Like the backfield of a football 

* A number of these comments have been taken almost verbatim from material 
prepared by the Military Intelligence Service of our War Department. 


team, it was the Air Force and the mechanized troops that received 
the publicity ; but, like the line, it was the German infantry that bore 
the brunt of the attack. 

It would be unfair at this time, with only incomplete evidence at 
hand, to condemn too severely the strategy of the Polish high com- 
mand. We do not know for certain whether it was the intention 
to accept battle at the frontier or merely to fight a series of delaying 
actions and then withdraw to the strong Narew- Vistula-San River 
line. In either case, however, it would appear that the Poles are 
open to criticism. For them to offer to meet the German Army in 
open warfare, on equal terms, suggests that either the Polish intelli- 
gence service had been seriously deficient, or that GHQ had made a 
faulty estimate of the worth of the German Army. If it was the 
real Polish plan merely to fight a series of delaying actions along 
the frontier and then to withdraw to the Vistula, a very strong case 
can still be made against the initial troop concentrations. Only one 
division was held originally on or in rear of this final line, while 95 
per cent of the entire Polish Army took post along or closely in rear 
of the frontier. The dispositions actually adopted suggest that the 
Polish war plan envisaged a cordon defense. 

Of the fifty German divisions used on the Polish Front, ten were 
mechanized, four were motorized, three were mountain, and thirty- 
three were infantry divisions. These figures show that the extent 
of the mechanization of the German Army has been greatly exag- 
gerated. In some of the later campaigns the proportion of infantry 
divisions was even greater. The Germans believe, and this belief 
was justified in Poland, that no mechanization and motorization has 
yet been able to give the same degree of tactical mobility and flexi- 
bility on the field of battle that foot soldiers possess. 

In general, the infantry divisions attacked on broad fronts, each 
division within the corps being assigned a zone of action and an 
objective. Within the division zones of action the advance was con- 
ducted by reinforced regiments. These reinforced regiments (called 
"march combat groups"*), operating almost independently, were 
largely responsible for the rapidity of the German advance. 

After the First World War, many officers of the German Army 
believed that the infantry division as then constituted was too large 
and unwieldly for open warfare, lacking sufficient strategic as well 
as tactical mobility. Too many small divisions would complicate the 
supply system ; so a compromise was arrived at by which the com- 
paratively large infantry division was retained, but with an organ- 

* Called "regimental combat teams" in our Army. 


ization which permitted its division into three groups, each provided 
organically with sufficient striking power to make it almost an in- 
dependent command. The entire division could, of course, be as- 
sembled for concerted action. While the trains were motorized, the 
combat elements retained much of their horse-drawn transportation. 

In the tactical employment of the German division, the march 
combat group is retained until enemy resistance necessitates em- 
ployment of the division as a whole, when all the attached troops 
immediately revert to division control. This is particularly true of 
the artillery, which is almost invariably employed under direct con- 
trol of the artillery commander, once the division is committed to 
concerted action. 

German tactical doctrine and training stress the responsibility for 
individual leadership and initiative of subordinate commanders. 
Each combat unit is organized and armed to provide for both fire and 
movement. In battle, appropriate objectives are assigned to each 
unit, and subordinate troop leaders accomplish their individual tac- 
tical missions with a minimum of interference from higher com- 
manders. Written orders in the division are rare. It was to this 
tactical doctrine and training that the extraordinary speed of the 
German attack can largely be attributed. Again to quote from 
Clausewitz : "Happy the army in which the untimely boldness fre- 
quently manifests itself; it is an exuberant growth which shows &, 
rich soil. Even foolhardiness, that is, boldness without an object, 
is not to be despised ..." 

No discussion of the German ground forces would be complete 
without reference to the remarkable marching ability and superb 
physical condition of the German soldier. An infantry division of 
the II Corps, crossing the Corridor, marched 45 miles against enemy 
resistance and forded the Vistula in a period of three days. Later 
this same unit marched 31 miles per day for three successive days. 

In contrast with their later use in succeeding campaigns, the em- 
ployment of panzer divisions on the Polish Front was conservative. 
As far as is known, in only two instances — in the Teschen area and 
in the attack of the fortified line of Mlawa — were tanks used in a 
coordinated attack with the infantry. It is not known whether 
these supporting tank units were from armored divisions or from the 
independent tank regiments that were available. Employing the 
soft-spot tactics of von Hutier, the German infantry divisions located 
weak spots and created gaps. The mechanized and motorized forces 
were then sent through the gaps in the execution of what were for- 
merly called "cavalry missions." They exploited the break-through 
by attacking the flanks and rear of the Polish divisions, disrupting 


their communications, preventing their taking up delaying positions, 
and cutting off their retreat to a final defensive line. When on these 
missions, the mechanized divisions would operate far in advance of 
the infantry, at times as much as 30 or 40 miles in rear of the Polish 
front line. 

In the Fourteenth Army on the south and in von Reichenau's 
Tenth Army, it is known that the mechanized and motorized divisions 
were organized into corps consisting of one or two mechanized divi- 
sions and a motorized division. Organically, the panzer division 
contained sufficient reconnaissance and security troops to seize ter- 
rain features along the route of advance, and sufficient infantry 
and artillery to occupy and hold the terrain taken. In the tank 
columns themselves, close artillery support was furnished by 
the medium tanks, armed with either the 37-mm. or 75-mm. gun 
and having the same maneuverability as the light tanks. 

German tank units had enough organic transportation to make 
them self-sufficient. Gasoline was supplied to combat units in five- 
gallon tins. These containers, about two feet high and' cylindrical 
in shape, were made of an extremely hard but light metal. Extra 
containers were carried on the tanks and when empty were dropped 
off along the road to be picked up by the trains. When the tank 
units of the Tenth Army first arrived at Warsaw, they were com- 
pletely cut off for several days, during which time they were supplied 
by air, the gasoline containers being dropped from planes. 

As already noted, the German Air Force contributed to both the 
strategical and tactical success of German arms in Poland. The 
Polish air arm was completely neutralized from the outset. After 
a few days it was no longer a factor. Rail lines were interrupted 
when and where the German high command desired. This con- 
tinuous bombardment prevented the completion of Polish mobiliza- 
tion. Telephone and telegraph lines were cut by bombing. Polish 
military headquarters, which were thus forced to use radio, were 
soon located and bombed. Civil as well as military control broke 
down rapidly, owing to the destruction of rail and wire communica- 
tions. During the entire campaign, air observation units provided 
the German Army with as complete information of its own and enemy 
troops as could be expected. Special airplanes for liaison work in 
friendly territory performed valuable service by disseminating in- 
formation and orders to German troops. The use of dive-bomber 
units on the field of battle against Polish reserves and the extensive 
employment of bombardment squadrons against retreating Polish 
columns contributed materially to the final result. The integration 


of the Air Force into the combined German military effort was so 
complete that its operations cannot be identified as decisive, but 
rather as indispensable in hastening the ultimate issue of battle. 

From the German viewpoint, a most important result of the Polish 
campaign was that they learned that their organization, armament, 
and tactical doctrine were correct. Especially was this true for the 
mechanized division, which received a thorough test. The First 
World War had indicated the tremendous striking force of an 
armored vehicle. The Spanish Civil War had demonstrated the ne- 
cessity for heavier tanks, to be used in mass. The invasion of 
Austria and Czechoslovakia had solved the technical problems of 
supply and repair. The Polish campaign showed that the organiza- 
tion of the armored division was satisfactory, and that these divisions 
were capable of independent action. Now the stage was set for the 
next act, the break-through at Sedan. 


Terrain, Communications, 
and Permanent Fortifications 


Paved Roads 

— _ Good Unpaved Roads 
4 4 4 4 Permanent Fortifications 

R \J'% A N 1 







>,-,/ 8 inf. divs. 
i)irT"'p%rizer div. 
1 1. mecz.div. 




R U S S I A 


Dispositions of Opposing Forces 
31 August, 1939, and German Plan 


4 German motorized 
divs. were used in 
Poland; exact ini- 
tial locations are not 

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2 cav. brigs, guarded 
Russian frontier. 


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Situation at Dark, 5 September, 1939 

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Situation at Dark, 8 September, 1939 








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Situation at Dark, 14 September, 1939 




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The greater port of 
tip* North Group with- 
drew into the fortresses 
of Modi In and Wortaw. 





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Situation at Dark, 20 September, 1939 

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DATE DUE (OA Pom 28-30) 

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JAN 17 21 


DA FORM 1881. 1 JAN 57 * lM ; mo or- 2 «-3ji 

MAIN 940.542 U575c 
The Campaign In Poland, 1939. 
United States. Military Academy, West Po 

Combined Arms Research Library 
Fort Leavenworth, KS 

3 1695 00083 665 


940. 542 



U. S. Military Academy, West Point. 
Dept. of Military Art and Engineering. 
The campaign in Poland, 1939.